As harvest yields varied, crop quality was good

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By Glen Hallick
Glacier FarmMedia staff

The 2020 harvest of organic grain crops in Ontario and across the Prairies saw yields vary while quality was generally very good.

Ontario benefitted from better weather than the hot, dry conditions that dominated the Prairies just before harvest.

Harro Wehrmann of Wehrmann Grain and Seeds in Ripley, Ont. said harvest conditions were a little bit dry, but yields were very high with some coming close to or hitting records.

Rob Wallbridge of Sure Services Commodities in Petrolia, Ont. said wheat yields were above average and the quality was very good.

“We are hearing very good soybean yields where weed control was good. Where weed control was a challenge, there’s definitely been a hit,” he commented, noting some soybean farmers reported strong yields of one tonne per acre.

The corn harvest as well produced some excellent yields Wallbridge stated, with some areas reaching upward to 200 bushels per acre. However, a good portion of the organic corn still remains in the field and wet weather has set in.

Most of the crop had really good harvest weather, so quality in general was really good. – Don Bonner

On the Prairies, the story is somewhat different due to the hot and dry weather experienced prior to harvest time.

“Yields didn’t quite meet some of the earlier expectations for the crops,” said Don Bonner of Growers’ Direct in Winnipeg, Man.

“Most of the crop had really good harvest weather, so quality in general was really good, especially across the southern Prairies,” he added.

However, Bonner said protein levels where “all over the map,” with some high while others were low.

The organic yields suffered more than the conventional yields. – Bryce Lobreau

Bryce Lobreau of Pristine Prairie Organics in Pipestone, Man. explained the big difference hot, dry weather can to do an organic crop as opposed to a conventional one.

“When you get extremely dry stretches, you get more weed pressure. The organic yields suffered more than the conventional yields. While conventional yields were probably average to above average, organic yields were around average,” he said.

In addition, how each organic farmer controlled the weeds in their fields also played a part in the eventual yields. Those who managed the weeds quite well had better yields than those farmers who incurred more weeds.

Lobreau believes there is an abundant supply of organic grains presently on the market, leaving very little upside for prices.

To Scott Shiels of Grain Millers Canada in Yorkton, Sask. the market has been holding up.

“Demand is alright, it was a little slow for a few months. It slows down after summer and things are picking back up now,” he said.

Wheat prices, he said, weren’t following that trend as the plentiful supply out of Ontario is keeping a lid on any gains.

Shiels agreed that “the hot dry weather in late July, early August took away some bushels.”

The excellent weather during harvest made for good quality, noted Jason Breault of RW Organics in Mossbank, Sask. However, yields in the Mossbank area ranged from slightly below average to better than average.

As for prices, Breault saw organic prices lagging behind those for conventional grains and didn’t benefit from the sharp increases the latter had recently.

One aspect those interviewed agreed on, the 2020 harvest was a huge improvement over the water-logged struggle farmers endured in 2019.